Sunday, November 29, 2009

Self-tite Advice

I wrote this post exactly one year ago. It was sitting in my draft box. Today I decided to dust it off and publish it.

Before I started SLs, I was in the salon every other week getting my hair done. I only did it myself if money was TIGHT! So the thought of maintaining my hair myself was overwhelming.

I used to look at ladies I knew who did their own micros and kinky twists with extensions (both of which are time-intensive and require different skills from a blow-dry and curl or wet set for example) and think: I could NEVER do that.

So I really thought I couldn't retighten my own Sisterlocks. The first time I saw my consultant do hers and another client's - it looked like magic to me!

She was so fast it just looked like she touched the tool to the scalp 2 or 3 times and she was done!
It seemed like something I could never learn.

But after 6 months I was ready to try.

I didn't have the money for the class so I bought the nappylocs tool. I read online how to do my pattern - the reverse 4 is super-easy - and just practiced on a few.

The hardest part for me is the same thing that challenges me about twists - if doing your whole head, your arms get tired. The 2nd hardest part - IMO - is not marrying locs and doing the parts you can't see, but you learn what it should feel like with practice.

Clips help keep stray locks out of the way too.

I thought I would HATE self-maintenance, but instead I LOVE it. I do a little every day. That's the other thing I advocate. Spread it out over as long a period of time as you want.

Get over the idea that you have to do it ALL in one day. You don't have to spend hours on it 'til you're tired and frustrated. Do 20 minutes and stop if you want. When I did mine the first time it took over a week.

Now I can go straight through in 2 - 3 days if I wait a few weeks between tightenings, but instead I do 20 or so every couple if days. It's a relaxing activity while watching tv.

Many people are stressing about what to do in anticipation of job loss or moving away from beloved consultants. To those women I say: if I were you, I would try to do it myself before I combined locks or looked into other options. I've been doing my own for a year now and haven't looked back!

Good luck!

A year later ( 2 years into the DIY and a little more than 2.5 years into my lock journey) I am proud to say that I never marry locks anymore even though I never use clips or bands or any sectioning method.

I have started somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 - 50 new locks in the last two years - mostly around my hairline, but some throughout the interior. Oddly enough I keep sprouting mysterious new growth in various places and whenever the fuzzy little coils reach about half an inch I lock them up.

I am actually totally random with my tightening schedule. I call it the madness method. Those of us with SLs have our hands in our hair pretty constantly anyway. I just keep a tool nearby and whenever I feel a lock that needs tightening I do.

I have about 350 locks and on average I tighten 20 - 50 almost every day. My hair grows super fast so I could tighten every day. If I am tired or busy or just plain don't feel like it, I don't.

I don't tighten in sections. I don't tighten the front or the back or the sides. There is literally no order and no pattern. The benefit of the madness method? It makes it easy not to marry locks because I never have a section that is all loose or long.

Consequently my roots are always neat and never puffy. Enough locks on the top and sides are always tight that the loose ones never stand out. Plus I have a wavy curl pattern, so even the long loose locks lay close to my scalp.

Generally speaking I never have to do more than one rotation and tight locks are always next to loose locks, so as I reach up and feel, I never have to wonder which lock I should be working on. It is nearly impossible to marry locks when five in a cluster are all tight and only one is loose.

Some people might hate the ongoing nature of this method, but to me it's like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. It has just become a regular feature of my daily grooming routine. It is still infinitely less time-consuming overall than anything else I ever did before with my hair, so I have absolutely no complaints!

Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself and I reach up and find that all of my locks are firm and none need retightening and I find myself almost disappointed that I will have to wait a day or two for new growth.

Does anyone else tighten daily?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Have I Been Doing?

Taking care of business - that's what!

Here is one of the staging jobs I recently completed.

This room wasn't even in the original MLS pictures. Because of the size – roughly 220 sq ft of floor space, the owners were counting it as a 4th BR, but because of the gabled ceilings it was really difficult to tell how to use it.

The room was very long and narrow, the roofline gave very little headroom and the 'room' was subdivided by a load-bearing structural wall that could not be removed. You could really only stand up or walk down the very center and furniture placement was a challenge.

You walked from one small space with 9 or 10 ft of height at the very center, but absolutely no headroom under the eaves to another smaller compartment with even less headroom. Anyone taller than 5 feet could only stand up in the very center.

I’m only 4’11 and once I walked through the door I could shimmy 6 inches to the right or left before I had to crane my neck and bow my shoulders! It wasn't even practical for storage. Without furniture it was almost certainly perceived as wasted space.

The narrowness and awkward angles in the larger part of the room made it impossible to put a bed anywhere without eating up precious floor space in a room where there were already so few spaces any adult could stand up straight.

I didn't want to sacrifice that valuable real estate by setting up a bed of any size - even a twin mattress or daybed. It would have seemed cramped and jammed under the eaves and still left a question about what to do with the hobbit room in the back.

The homeowner suggested I stage it as an office or playroom for children (ahhh... how I love homeowner suggestions). I told him I would stage the entire space as a 'teen suite retreat'.

Sellers need to understand that staging isn't just about decorating and design. It is also about the psychology of sales and defining purpose and usefulness.

I was reluctant to stage it as a nursery or playroom because the other 3 bedrooms in the house were downstairs and the staircase leading upstairs was narrow and a little tricky. Not completely unsafe, but not where you would want to put your small children out of sight and out of earshot while you went about your daily affairs on the first floor. And there is no way you would want an infant that far removed from the master and main living areas.

I was reluctant to make it an office because that essentially leaves you with a three bedroom house. What if a family with 3 children wanted to buy and they needed separate rooms for all of them and had no use for a home office? If we’re calling it a 4th bedroom, we need to show how it can be used as a bedroom.

Feedback Realtors had gotten prior to staging was that the owners were kidding themselves by calling it a 4th bedroom. Buyers perceived it as well-finished, well-lit, well-carpeted storage space. Somewhere that would be good to stash boxes and X-mas decorations or files – easy access and few insects to worry about.

The problem with that was – the attic had been finished in such a way that there was lots and lots of that under the rest of the eaves and gables throughout the second floor. There was already about 200 sq ft of easily accessible, relatively clean storage space. We needed to show that the room was valuable living space, not storage. The house already had more than enough storage.

The room was simply odd and there were no two ways about it. However, it was adjacent to the bonus/media room and a space that was currently finished as a walk-in closet, but that was wired and plumbed for a 4th bathroom - A project that would be easy enough for the buyers to complete if they chose. So the room made perfect sense as a place for tweens and teens to entertain their friends.

The bonus room was around the corner – perfect for movies and video games. The layout of the upstairs bedroom did not lend itself to a master suite without reconfiguring some walls and raising the roof – which someone may choose to do someday. But there was plenty of room for an adolescent to feel like they had their own space to hang out with friends away from the rest of the family, yet it was not so far removed and isolated that parents would feel uncomfortable with the set-up.

I chose to make the tiny room that you couldn’t stand up in a sleeping alcove. Even though there was no room to walk around, there was enough floor space for a king size bed!

Imagine the cozy private retreat this created for a teenager. It was enough room to have a big comfy bed. There were two small windows through which you could see the sky: day or night, but you could also make it dark for sleeping in on Saturdays and summer mornings!

I envisioned a teen-aged girl lying across the bed talking on the phone, using her laptop, or reading books – although the general concept would work just as well for a boy. The outer area was large enough to accommodate a large screen plasma TV I set up on a coffee table in another windowed nook. There was a funky cheetah print chaise lounge and zebra floor pillows (courtesy of the homeowner). It was almost like having a little studio apartment.

That would have been the coolest room for a young person! When I described it, the homeowners didn’t see my vision. Neither did my business partner or my live-in stager. Everyone was like: if you think that will work…. O-kay…

Then when I finished it they were all excited about how well I executed it. That’s one thing I love about being a stager – the opportunity to make ‘problem’ areas make sense to buyers and sellers alike.

In the end, I don’t know what the buyer will do with the space, but at least I have given them one option they may never have thought of when they saw it empty.